Malawi is devastated. The destruction caused by Cyclone Ana and, just last week, Cyclone Gombe, are heartrending.
Lives have been lost. Houses have been destroyed to the ground. Infrastructure, like roads and railways have left us mouth agape. Crops and livestock have been washed away.
The cost of the destruction will be too much to bear. It will be too hard to come to terms with. It will be too hard to recover from.
Families are traumatised, having lost their loved ones, their property and everything they longed to achieve this year and beyond.
There are certain things that will be even harder to count. Look, it is a given fact that matters like child pregnancies may shoot up because of the destruction. Girls have ended up in camps where they may be vulnerable to others who may take advantage of their sad situation to abuse them. As we are talking, there is without doubt, right now an adult who has coaxed a little girl to bed in exchange for aid in some form.
Here come the lords of the floods. Here are the barons of the cyclones.
There is one thing about lords and barons. They take advantage of the disadvantaged to achieve their own selfish gains.
Cyclone Ana and Cyclone Gombe, and other cyclones, God forbid, will bring with them so many lords of the floods.
There are barons of the cyclones who are technocrats. These will inflate budgets from the national coffers intended for the assistance of the natural disasters we are facing. This lot will sex up figures from their boardrooms in the guise of assisting flood victims.
Organisations too will have their barons of the floods. You will see their response to the tragedy in all spaces available. These lords of the floods will tell you that they have set K12 billion for interventions to counter the effects of the deluge. The rest of us will see that that amount is sufficient to ease the pain the victims are facing. But no, the barons of the cyclones will not tell you that K8 billion of that amount goes to logistics, including fuel and DSAs.
Then there are the barons of the cyclones who hide behind the procurement mantle. They will go to a supplier and say in their ear: “Hey, will be buy this huge consignment. Give us a discount, but indicate on all the paperwork your actual prices. You will have your cut.”
I see lords of the cyclones in some chiefs. These allow their subjects have one house in the flood-prone areas and another in the upland. When the flood waters come, the house in the flood-prone area is carried away, then the subjects move to a camp and register as their house was washed away.
There are bad apples. I am not saying all that are in the camps do this. There are bad minds out there. There are people who are suffering because of the floods and there is nothing they could have done about it. Yet, others have the capacity to change their lives, yet they want to be lords of poverty by being victims of natural disasters.
Yes, there will be lords of the floods in religious circles. They will go around asking people to assist them to assist the victims. They will go long and wide to ask their faithful to give with open arms for assistance for the victims. Yet, how much will really go to the victims? The lords of the floods will wear the face of the fund-raising committee and some others sharing his line of thinking.
Get it right. It is not wrong for all these interventions. Neither is it wrong to assist where some are suffering. It is all wrong to enrich yourself on people’s suffering.
But, what got me into all this warped thinking?
Well, some lords of the floods there in Parliament suggested that the budget to the Office of President and Cabinet should be increased by K8 billion because of effects of Cyclone Ana, among other things. How they did that without thinking that Cyclone Gombe was on the way.
These thoughts came because some barons of the cyclone there at Parliament feel government must allocate K100 million to councils for disasters. Are you thinking what I am thinking? The lords of poverty shall always be among us!